What stands out?

The Qashqai is the larger of two small SUVs Nissan sells (the other being the quirkily styled Juke). It costs less than the mid-sized X-Trail but comes with lots of equipment along with a spacious, well-presented and clever interior, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, and autonomous emergency braking as standard.

What might bug me?

Explaining to friends and family how to pronounce Qashqai. For the record, it’s “cash-kye”.

Driving under 80km/h on the space-saver spare until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.

What body styles are there?

Five-door wagon only.

All Qashqais drive the front wheels only, and the Qashqai is classed as a small SUV, lower priced.

What features do all Qashqais have?

Cruise control, a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen, AM/FM/digital (DAB+ radio), Bluetooth phone connectivity, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay that lets you display smartphone apps on the touchscreen and control them from there (or by voice).

A reversing camera, for better vision when parking, and front and rear parking sensors.

A leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Aluminium alloy wheels, which look better and are lighter than steel wheels. (And a space-saver spare wheel.)

Active safety including autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; side airbags to protect the upper body of front occupants; and head-protecting curtain airbags for front and rear occupants.

Keyless entry, push button engine start and electric park brake with auto hold function, and hill start assist.

LED daytime running lights

Lumbar support for front seats

The Qashqai is covered by a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

The only engine in the 2018 Qashqai range is 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, with the 1.6-litre turbo diesel dropped from the range, when the Qashqai was updated in late 2017.

The 2.0-litre engine consumes 6.9 litres of petrol per 100km when teamed with the continual variable transmission (CVT), according to official testing, with that figure taking into account urban and country driving. With the manual gearbox it uses 7.7 litres/100kms – which makes it among the thirstier small SUVs on sale.

The manual gearbox (only available with the cheapest Qashqai, the ST) is a six-speeder, while the CVT automatic does away with gear ratios and adjusts the engine speed steplessly to your demands as a driver.

All Qashqais are front-wheel drive.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

Spending Step up to the ST+ and the CVT auto transmission is standard.

The infotainment display gains around view monitor to help you avoid obstacles when parking, and satellite navigation with free updates that can be downloaded at home and transferred to the system via a USB.

The side mirrors fold at the touch of a button, and are heated so they don’t stay fogged up in cold weather.

The ST+ also gains additional driver assistance features that were previously only found in the more expensive Ti, including: headlights that switch on automatically when it gets dark; high beams that automatically dip when it senses a car ahead; rain-sensing windscreen wipers; blind-spot warning; rear-cross traffic alert; and driver attention alert that warns you if you start weaving within your lane, which is a sign of fatigue.

The ST-L loses the additional driver assistance features, with the extra cost bringing seats trimmed partly with higher quality graphite cloth and partial leather (a mix between real and fake leather). Both front seats are heated and the driver’s seat has power adjustments.

The exterior gains front fog lights and roof rails, and bigger 18-inch alloy wheels with wider tyres that offer more grip.

In February 2020 Nissan introduced a limited-edition version of the ST-L called that N-Sport that for an additional $1000 added bigger 19-inch alloy wheels, black interior headline, and exterior trim enhancements giving it a slightly sportier edge.

The most expensive Qashqai, the TI comes with the driver assistance features now included in the ST+, as well as pedestrian detection for the autonomous emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control (which reduced speed to match the car in front and keeps a safe distance),

It also gains Nappa leather-accented seat trim, 19-inch wheels, and cabin ambience is improved by a panoramic sunroof and mood lighting.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The lower profile tyres on Ti’s 19-inch wheels ride more roughly and could cost more to replace.

How comfortable is the Qashqai?

The Qashqai has broad front seats, which are good for big adults – although small people may find themselves wishing the seat bolsters constrained them more narrowly. The seats are comfortable and can be easily adjusted in other respects to suit most people.

The touchscreen is easily accessible for both of the people in front and has a logical menu system. In February 2020 Nissan finally added Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, which makes it easier and safer to make calls and use apps such as maps, Spotify and podcasts.

The ventilation system is user friendly also.

The Qashqai feels nice inside and the interior is generally well put together. The 2018 update was a further improvement in cabin quality, with hard plastics cut back significantly, particularly on the door trims and centre console. The steering wheel was completely redesigned to bring it up to date with modern trends.

Cabin noise was also improved, with extra sound deadening in the doors. On a variety of road surfaces, cruising at highway speeds, road noise was minimal.

Tyre noise is more noticeable with the Ti’s 19-inch wheels.

Steering is light and responsive and the turning circle is tight, so the Qashqai is easy to pilot around town. The cabin is well hushed and the suspension feels supple over bumps.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine is responsive and works best with the CVT auto, which quickly adapts to your needs and gives you good acceleration.

What about safety in the Qashqai?

Every Qashqai has the mandatory stability control, a full complement of airbags, seatbelt warnings for all five seats, and a rear-view camera. It is a package that prioritises your control of the car, your protection in a crash, and the safety of others when you are reversing.

All Qashqais now have active safety features as standard including automatic emergency braking with forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

The ST+ and Ti gain blind sport warning (which alerts you if there is another car alongside, out of view, when you indicate to change lanes) and rear-cross traffic alert that warns if a vehicle is approaching from either side while you’re reversing.

They also have headlights, which can respond to poor visibility before you would notice and turn them on. That could help other drivers see you.

The Ti also has adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the Qashqai’s safety at five stars, its maximum, in July 2014.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

The Qashqai doesn’t lean much in bends, something that helps it feel planted on the road and responsive to driver inputs. It’s fun and drives more like a good car than a higher-riding SUV.

The Ti rides on the slightly wider, lower-profile tyres that respond quicker to steering inputs, although there is little feedback sent through the wheel.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine accelerates well and the car feels perky, especially in CVT auto form.

The Qashqai may look like an off-roader but it drives only its front wheels, so is not designed to be used off-road, though the extra ride height over a normal car is an advantage on rougher road surfaces.

How is life in the rear seats?

The Qashqai is one of the bigger small SUVs and so it has good head and leg room in the back. The seat is mounted quite low, so people with long legs will sit with knees higher than usual. The rising line of the back windows could restrict vision for small children.

While the back seat is flat (unlike some that are dished in the outer positions), a centre passenger has to contend with the firmer, raised armrest in the seatback behind them and a central hump in the floor.

There are pockets in the rear doors and behind the front seats where you can store small items. But there are no rear air-conditioning ducts.

How is it the Qashqai for carrying stuff?

The Qashqai’s 430-litre boot is one of the biggest in its class. Binnacles on either side are handy for small items, while the flat floor is relatively broad.

The boot can be expanded significantly to 1596 litres, thanks to 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks, although they do not fold completely flat.

There’s a clever removable shelf which can be used to create a slim secondary space hiding delicate or valuable items, and the shelf can also be locked in vertically to divide the boot.

Up front there is a deep centre console that’s great for small bags or myriad odds and ends. There are also large door pockets, a pair of cupholders and an open storage container (perfect for phones) forward of the gear stick.

Where is the Qashqai made?

All Qashqais are produced in the United Kingdom.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

A punchier turbocharged engine as available in the Citroen C3 Aircross, Holden Trax, Jeep Renegade, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Mistubishi Eclipse Cross, Toyota C-HR, and the Renault Kadjar that is actually based on the Qashqai.

An all-wheel drive system, for light-duty off-roading. The Renegade, Seltos, Kona, Mazda CX-3, Eclipse Cross, C-HR, Subaru XV, and Suzuki Vitara are available with all-wheel drive, for example.

Other cars you might consider include the Mitsubishi ASX, Holden Trax, Honda HR-V.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

We like the Qashqai ST+, which comes standard with the CVT auto, in-built satellite navigation and the additional active safety and driver assist features found at the top of the range in the Qashqai Ti.

Are there plans to update this model soon?

This is the latest version of the first-generation Qashqai, which went on sale in 2014 as a replacement for the Nissan Dualis. It arrived in December 2017 for the 2018 model year.

The Qashqai N-TEC made way for the Ti mid-2018. The N-TEC was a temporary model that was introduced because the Ti was unavailable when the updated Qashqai arrived in December 2017. The only differences between the two is the Ti has more luxurious Nappa leather-accented seat trim, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist.

In April 2019 Nissan Australia extended its warranty from three to five years for all its models including Qashqai.

Nissan introduced the ST+ in May 2019, which added some of the ST-L’s features to the basic spec without the leather-appointed seat trim and heated front seats. In February 2020 the ST+ also gained active safety features found in the more expensive Ti making it the pick of the range.

The February 2020 update also added Android Auto/Apple CarPlay to all Qashqai versions, which added appeal against newer rivals. A limited edition N-Sport version based on the ST-L was also added to the range.

An all-new Qashqai is expected to be revealed in September 2020, though don’t expect it to arrive in Australia until mid-2021 at the earliest.